Music Theory Online Program

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In this online class, we will focus on learning how to organize pitches and rhythms to make dynamic and interesting melodies and harmonies. No experience with music theory, playing an instrument, or reading music is necessary. We will be focusing on how to use your DAW as your instrument to understand and work with music theory.

Slam Academy is proud to host the only Music Theory program with four Ableton Certified Trainers. Our instructors have presented at Ableton’s own Loop festival in Berlin, toured the world as DJs and Producers, and taught Ableton to some of the most highly respected producers on the scene.

But don’t let that intimidate you. Our Ableton Certified Trainers run this class like all Slam Academy classes: with the emphasis on learning, and not dogma. Motivation instead of intimidation, and inspiration instead of humility. We value the experiences of everyone in every class, so join in and become part of the most powerful Music Theory for Electronic Music Producers class online!

The Music Theory Online Program has hundreds of hours of video, in addition to two weekly live sessions.

Live Sessions

Live sessions happen two times per week and are optional. You do not need to join in, but once you do we think you will be hooked. In them, you can ask questions, get feedback on your track, or you can just sit quietly and listen.

Most students come to one live session per week. The schedule will be posted in the class, and the two sessions are usually spaced apart to allow for students in different time zones to attend.

Joining the live session is as easy as clicking the link for the session provided in the class – no additional software is necessary. If you have a webcam the teacher will be able to see you, but if you don’t, that’s fine too. You will always be able to see and hear the teacher, in real-time.

Video Library

If you’ve spent time combing YouTube for tutorials, then you know what an advantage it is to have a structured curriculum. When you work with our lessons, you will get top quality videos, organized by topic, that will lead you through every conceivable situation. And if we don’t have it, you can always ask in the Live Session!

All of our videos have been updated with the latest version of Ableton Live: Live 10 Suite. If you are using an earlier version, you will be just fine. But we encourage students to always be using the latest versions.

When you work with the library, you will be able to go at whatever pace you like. One video a day, one a week, or binge a whole section at a time – it’s totally up to you.

The three parts of the Music Theory Program have been structured and developed by our own Ableton Certified Trainers. Dr. Allen will be teaching his ground-breaking curriculum for Slam Academy.

J. Anthony Allen has been teaching music composition, production, and theory in college classrooms for over 10 years. His online classes, “Music Theory for Electronic Musicians 1 & 2” have over 6000 students from around the globe, have been translated into Spanish, Russian, German, and Japanese, and are used in other school curriculums worldwide.

J. Anthony Allen teaches Slam Academy’s Music Theory Program. Allen has worn the hats of composer, producer, songwriter, engineer, sound designer, DJ, remix artist, multi-media artist, performer, inventor, and entrepreneur. Allen is a versatile creator whose diverse project experience ranges from works written for the Minnesota Orchestra to pieces developed for film, TV, and radio.

Software Requirements: any DAW

Prerequisites: None

Always On – Start Anytime

The Slam Academy Online Programs are available to start whenever you like. Once you enroll, you will immediately have access to over 100 hours of video, projects, session files, and more. In addition, if enrolling with the interactive component, every week there are multiple live video chat sessions where students can interact face-to-face with their instructor and fellow students.

How does it work?

Once a student enrolls in the Music Theory Online Program, they will be given access to their own custom portal page. On it, they will have access to all of the class files, separated into 3 different “parts”. From there, the student can go at their own pace. We recommend that this content should take 4 months to complete.

If the student has selected the Interactive version of the class, they will also see in their portal a link to access to the Live Chat. Students are welcome to access the chat at any time and talk to each other about what they are working on. The instructor will have hours posted for when they will be in the room as well.

Program Overview

  • Music Theory Part 1: The Basics and Major Keys

    Level 1: Working with Music Theory on the Piano Roll Editor – To begin, we will look at basic music theory concepts with the Ableton Live, but you can follow along in any audio program.

    Level 2: The perfect 5th, and what it means to be “in key” – We need to learn a few different intervals – the distance between 2 notes. Our first interval will be the fifth.

    Level 3: More with keys, the third, and the basic triad – Once we have the interval of a fifth, and the interval of a third, we can start building chords.

    Level 4: Diatonic Chord Progressions – In this section we will cover the secret sauce that tells us ALL the chords that will work in ANY key.

    Level 5: 7th Chords – We’ve learned how to make triads – but we can go a little further and make more complex chords using 7ths.

    Level 6: Using the other intervals – We skipped over talking about the 4th, the 6th, and the 2nd. But in a way, you’ve already been using them.

  • Music Theory Part 2: Minor Keys and More

    Level 7: Minor scales and keys – In this section we will move into minor scales and keys, explore some tracks that take advantage of minor keys, and do some analysis of Avicii and Deadmau5.

    Level 8: The circle of fifths – In this level we will talk about modulating to new keys, and how to smoothly transition into a new key area using the circle of fifths.

    Level 9: More chord extensions – We’ve learned triads, and extended them to 7th chords. But what if we keep going – to 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths. Those are real chords, and have some important uses.

    Level 10: Writing Melodies with Music Theory – Throughout this course we’ve looked at writing music using the techniques we’ve been discussing. In this section, however, I want to spend a lot of time specifically focusing on melody, scale degrees, and “tendency tones”.
  • Music Theory Part 3: Extended Harmony

    Level 11: Harmonic properties and problems in bass lines – Have you ever had a bass line be a bully in your mix? Thinking through the harmony and what chord tone your bass is on could help.


Have a question about the program? Email us anytime at [email protected]

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